Minneapolis, MN – Now-former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin agreed to plead guilty to a third-degree murder charge just three days after the in-custody death of George Floyd, but the deal was nullified by then-Attorney General William Barr.
As swaths of Minneapolis burned to the ground and rioters violently clashed with police night after night, Chauvin struck a deal with prosecutors that would have sent him to prison for more than a decade, The New York Times reported.
But as city officials hoping to quell the rioting raced to set up a press conference to announce the deal, they received word that Barr refused to consent to Chauvin’s contingency that the federal government guarantee him he would not face federal civil rights charges, three law enforcement officials recently told the paper.
A source explained that Barr was concerned protesters might view the plea deal as being too lenient, especially considering the fact that the investigation into the incident hadn’t even been completed at the time, The New York Times reported.
Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection Floyd’s May 25, 2020 death.
Jury selection for his impending trial is slated to begin on March 8, amid fears that the proceedings and eventual outcome could be a flashpoint for even more violence in Minneapolis, The New York Times reported.
The trial is expected to last for weeks.
Some workers in downtown Minneapolis said they have already been told to stay home from work during the proceedings due to heavy security, to include a National Guard deployment and various checkpoints, The New York Times reported.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has allocated $35 million to reimburse local law enforcement agencies in the event they are asked to come assist the city with any violent uprisings.
Walz has also set aside $4.2 million to pay for security during the trial.
Prosecutors have asked an appeals court to delay Chauvin’s trial due to concerns that the large groups of protesters would create a COVID-19 superspreader event, The New York Times reported.
They have also appealed Judge Peter Cahill’s decision to try Chauvin separately from the other three former Minneapolis police officers who were involved in Floyd’s arrest.
The trial for the other three former officers – all of whom have been charged with aiding and abetting – is slated to begin on Aug. 23, KSTP reported.
In the event Chauvin is acquitted, the charges against Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and Alexander Kueng would likely be dismissed altogether.